Hops and the City is an exploration of beer in Pittsburgh by our resident craft beer enthusiast, Angelica Ross. Angelica is pitting beers against each other and honing her taste skills simultaneously while providing you with her unique opinions on the brews in front of her. It’s like Carrie dishing about men and learning about which guy suits her best…except for Angelica, it’s beer. Follow Angelica on Twitter @syntaxxerrorrr.
There once was a girl who wanted to learn about beer. Specifically, she wanted to be able to identify the nuances present between different beers of the same style. What hops make this flavor? When something is dry hopped, how does it change the beer? Real food-nerd stuff. Her dream was to try the same style of beer from the same brewery and try to pick out out what goes into each one.
When this girl happened to wander into Insurrection Aleworks, she knew she hit the jackpot. Sitting before her were four different IPAs all from the same maker: Ming Joint, Guerilla Activity, Sedition #3, and Where The Dankness Roams. All very hazy, all pretty bitter.
Ming Joint is the lightest of the IPA line up. While all of the hops (Nelson Sauvin, Summer, El Dorado, and Chinook) add citrus, florals, and other flavors you’d think of as light and fresh, this beer turned out hazy and bitter. Hops. They do crazy things.
This is the only one that is a little “too” — too fermented, too dry, too not the girl’s favorite. There’s something in this one that didn’t quite connect for the girl.
The darkest beer of the night is Guerilla Activity. It smells fruitier than it tastes. The orgy of hops used that, as far as the girl can tell, are mostly floral or fruity in character. Citra, Galaxy, Simcoe, Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, Summer, Mosaic, and Exp 6277 (what, they couldn’t find a catchier name for this one?) hops are all found in Guerilla Activity. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, it’s fermented with Brettanomyces.
For all the hop hype, the girl wanted to like this one, but it seemed like the flavors got lost together. The saving grace (if you will) are the Simcoe hops. They add a little earthiness with some pine. And they’re easy to pick out among the chorus line of fruits.
And with the addition of Brett, it seems like it would be a little hazier, too, but you can see clear to the bottom of the glass. Perhaps it will be revisited after a more complete palette is formed.
If you want to start a rebellion, take Sedition #3 away from the girl. It has a great floral aroma, but tastes very citrusy. The perfect IPA in the girl’s eyes; it’s the easiest to drink. Hopped with Citra and Mosaic, it feels refreshing, has a nice balance between the citrus and bitter qualities, and isn’t overwhelmingly complex like Guerilla Activity.
The girl could drink this all day every day and it almost stole the title of The Girl’s Favorite Beer in Pittsburgh from Grist House.
Where The Dankness Roams
When the girl thinks dark and dank, she thinks of a basement. And there is a hint of basement in this beer. It isn’t bad, it’s just different than the others with their floral/fruity presence. It is hereby, too, in all senses of the word. You know in Clueless when Tai asks about some herbal refreshment? She wasn’t talking about tea. She was talking about this beer.
It’s pot, okay, this beer reminds the girl of pot.
This beer is pretty friendly, even though it was just compared to a basement and weed. It also drinks like a wine thanks to the Nelson Sauvin hops. It’s an IPA of a different animal.
So what the girl learned after venturing to the magical land of Heidelberg is that Insurrection has a love for IPAs, hazy and bitter beers, and hops. She also learned about Nelson Sauvin hops (if you like wine, seek out beers that feature Nelson Sauvin) and that beers with a few main stars are better, to her, than an ensemble cast.